Impact projects

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Applying the curriculum to real-world opportunities

During the third year of the program, teams of three to five students work on strategic issues of major concern to the company in the context of a Leadership Project. The projects require students to apply leadership, technical, and managerial skills developed during the program. The projects are not just an academic exercise. Each is expected to provide significant, demonstrable benefit.

A long-term investment in employees and the company

In addition to the immediate ROI firms receive from team projects, EMMP has proven to be an effective long-term investment. More than 90 percent of EMMP graduates have remained inside their organizations for at least five years. EMMP is a profitable investment, not only in the individual employee, but in the future of the company as well.

Cross-functional experience

EMMP Leadership Projects provide students an opportunity to work outside their normal functional area—to positively impact career development by providing education and experience in areas they might not come into contact with otherwise. The cross-functional nature of EMMP promotes the integration of financial, marketing, engineering, and manufacturing perspectives into the conceptualization and planning of Leadership Projects. In doing so, the projects bring an overview of the company that is often found only at the executive level. Projects typically have sponsorship at the highest levels in the corporation.

Experienced advisory committee

A group of WSU faculty, in their roles as Leadership Project Advisory Committee members, has advised 94 leadership project teams over the past 13 years. This group provides guidance to teams over the entire course of the projects.

Past projects

  • E-Risk
  • Vehicle Shipping Facilities Optimizer
  • Custom Lifestyle Boutique
  • Global Product Development System Electrical Module and Subsystem Product Development Process
  • Flexibility Options
  • Powertrain Package Envelope Implementation and Management
  • Design for Customization Product Development Process
  • Enterprise Scenario Planner
  • Optimization of Prototype Utilization and Scheduling and Prototype Planning

E-Risk

This project produced a model and process for engineering change decisions and assessing associated risks. It supported corporate objectives to improve quality, customer satisfaction, warranty, program cost and timing. The model was implemented as a graphical, intuitive, easy-to-use software tool that supports quick analysis of complex decisions, forecasting of risk in terms of cost, prioritizing engineering changes, and "what if" scenario building.

E-Risk is fully integrated into Ford Motor Company's Product Development website as a recommended tool for all vehicle product development teams.

Vehicle shipping facilities optimizer

The major deliverable of this project was a tool for analyzing outbound shipments at assembly plants. The tool uses deterministic optimization techniques to quickly identify facility constraints and bottlenecks, increase on-time shipments, and improve decision-making about related processes. The project team delivered a complete tool as a software module that is in use at company facilities today.

Custom lifestyle boutique

The project team generated an implementation plan for specialty aftermarket products leveraging an integration of the existing company, supplier, and dealer infrastructure. The project utilized market research data on vehicle usage, needs profile, and lifestyles of consumers for an international vehicle program to pilot their business concept. As part of project implementation, this model for aftermarket planning was tied into the corporate product development process and transformed this activity into a profit generator.

Global product development system electrical module and subsystem product development process

Electrical and electronic control has gone from 100 percent analog to primarily digital microprocessor based controls. This project reduced cycle time, complexity, and defects and improved quality in the complex electrical and software design environment. The team successfully designed and implemented a generic electrical and electronics body module work plan using value stream analysis in close cooperation with suppliers. The project cut the product development time by as much as eight weeks while improving product quality with the implementation of Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) and Electrical Stress Screening (ESS).

Flexibility options

This project developed a process to identify opportunities for manufacturing investment flexibility, and to understand the financial impact of different flexible investment scenarios.

Using sensitivity coefficients combined with probabilistic linear optimization, the project team established an innovative methodology for evaluating manufacturing flexibility. The methodology helps managers make informed capital investment decisions, evaluate product sourcing and capacity planning options, and mitigate risk of market uncertainty. Case studies of two ongoing vehicle programs validated the project findings. The team's process and methodology were instituted as a regular part of company business planning, supported by $350 million marked for flexibility initiatives.

Powertrain package envelope implementation and management

This project developed a plan to optimize the number of powertrain platforms, supporting corporate vehicle commonization efforts. Mathematical modeling and trade-off techniques formed the basis of the project team's approach to powertrain decisions. Using a single vehicle program as a test case, the team identified a total engineering and investment savings of $99.2 million, and significant improvements in time-to-market, through the application of their commonization method.  

Design for customization product development process

This project moved accessory development up front in the product development process with a base vehicle to make a serious inroad into the multi-billion dollar aftermarket and accessory business. This team conducted a comprehensive industry benchmarking study to formulate a competitive aftermarket and accessory plan, which they piloted and successfully incorporated into the main stream Global Product Development System. Their Design for Customization process spanned activities preceding program start through activities at launch, crisscrossing organizational boundaries.  

Enterprise scenario planner

This project developed and demonstrated a web-based decision support tool linking Ford databases, bringing critical real-time data into meeting rooms, and facilitating collaboration for enterprise cycle plan scenario planning. The team articulated the limitations of existing planning processes and demonstrated how the ESP tool represented several improvement opportunities. The tools are helping company management achieve a more robust planning strategy, producing higher quality products in less time.  

Optimization of prototype utilization and scheduling and prototype planning

These projects represent the first project continuation by a subsequent class, and carry an estimated cost savings of $250 million per year. The projects have impacted both the corporate level in determining requirements for prototypes, and at the local vehicle program level serving as a tool for prototype scheduling and tracking. The projects underscore the power of a cross-divisional team of EMMP students applying their academic training to solve practical problems in the company, resulting in significant benefit to bottom-line shareholder value.